Larry Kenney, Voice of Lion-O from Thundercats and more!

THUNERCATS HO!!!!!

Today Melissa got to sit down with the one and only voice of Lion-O from the 1985 original Thundercats cartoon, Larry Kenney! Larry has done a whole lot more as well, but this is the role that sticks out as it resonates with our 80’s nerdom.

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Larry Kenny – Interview

 

[00:00:00] Melissa: This is spoiler country and I’m Melissa’s for chat today. I’m thrilled to welcome voice actor, Larry, Kenny to the shell.

Thanks for being here.

Larry Kenney: Oh, thanks, Melissa. How are you?

Melissa: I’m doing really well. How are you doing?

Larry Kenney: I’m just fine. This is fine as we can all be right now, right?

Melissa: Yeah. Crazy times we’re living in.

Larry Kenney: Yeah. But you know, you do what you gotta do to get by, right? Yeah, absolutely.

Melissa: Yeah. And are you a West coast? East coast?

Larry Kenney: I’m in New York.

Melissa: Okay. Yeah. Very nice. Awesome. Awesome. Well and are you from New York?

Larry Kenney: No, no, I’ve been, well, I may as well be, I’ve been out here over 45 years now, but I’m from a little town in Illinois originally.

Melissa: Okay, great. And you say you moved to New York in what year?

Larry Kenney: I came here in 74, I think.

Yeah, 74.

Melissa: Okay. Now you got into, you got started in radio. How did you get into that? And, and how did you make the jump into [00:01:00] voice acting?

Larry Kenney: Well I got into it by, let’s see if, start from the beginning, I guess in 1963, when everything was black and white, I got I was doing a we actually had a. A radio class with our own studio and everything at this little high school, in a little town in Illinois.

And to this day I look back and I think it must’ve been a miracle why they would have a radio studio in that school at that time. And, and and we did a 10 minute radio show every day. Over telephone lines over the local radio station. Yeah. About the school, you know, it was just, you know, with what was going on at school that day.

And we get the school lunch menu. So moms wouldn’t know what not to cook for dinner. And then one day I get a call from the program director is this the big station in the area and Peoria and then lane. Right across the road, Randy, he had hurt me and he said, like, to offer you a job. So I started as a disc [00:02:00] jockey when I was 15 the station.

Yeah. And, and then I worked there for a few years. Then I moved to, as we do in radio, I moved on to. Fort Wayne, Indiana, then Cleveland, and then in Chicago, and then finally in New York. And I’ve been here ever since.

Melissa: And so what was when did you know that you had a talent for, for voice acting and how did you, you know, make that transition?

Larry Kenney: Well, my mom knew first. She tells me that when I was by the time or from the time that I could talk, I was doing cartoon voices, mimicking what I saw on television, you know? And and then I got into, I just, I don’t know why, but at that age you don’t know why you’re doing anything, but I, I noticed right away that doing cartoon voices and impersonating.

Funny people and comedians Was a great thing because it made people laugh. Yeah. And that made me feel good, but I also learned [00:03:00] much later in therapy

Melissa: as we do learn things from that. Yeah.

Larry Kenney: All right. Hopefully if you want to make it, but I learned that I love making people laugh and they love, you know, people who, people kind of flock to people who make them laugh. You know what I’m saying? Who doesn’t want to be around somebody that can keep the party going, you know?

And, and I learned very early that like maybe third grade that the girls liked it a lot. And that’s all it took for me.

Melissa: That’s great. Yeah, no, you’re right. We all want to be around, you know, someone that can make us laugh all the time. Yeah. Did you have to take any acting classes to prepare as you were making your career as a voice actor?

Larry Kenney: No, I didn’t I’ve I’ve I never took any acting classes. I didn’t even act in a play in high school. I did a couple of plays in college, but mostly in high school. [00:04:00] Once I knew that this is what I wanted to do, you know, it was beyond radio. I I made sure I took speech courses, you know, all the different kinds of speech courses, public speaking, you know, I even took the bait.

My kind of my mentor in radio at the time told me stay in school. You know, a lot of guys in your position, you know, I was kind of looked at it as, as a, as a child prodigy, you know, Because I was 15 and not as major radio station. And he said, but don’t let it go to your head and, and stay in school and take a lot of take speech classes.

He said, I know you think you have, and you do have, you know, a great voice and, you know, but trust me, he said later on you’ll thank me. So I took every kind of speech course and stayed in radio and it all worked out so well for me.

Melissa: Yeah, no, that’s really smart. I wouldn’t even have thought of that beforehand.

I mean, you know, you think of it as acting, which it is in a sense, but the speech classes and the debates and the public speaking yeah, that seems like it would be perfect to [00:05:00] perfect and give you the confidence to, to be able to yeah.

Larry Kenney: See, that’s the, that’s the important thing. Yeah. It’s not so much learning how to do this, this thing in speech, in that thing in speech, but it’s developing your overall.

Persona finding your voice, finding your voice, and then, then applying it to whichever direction in that business you want to go. I even did I even begged them and finally got them let to let me be the PA guy at our basketball and football games. Yeah. Cause that’s, that’s public speaking, you know,

Melissa: and yeah.

Practice.

Larry Kenney: Yeah, exactly.

Melissa: Yeah. So what is the process like when you go into record a voice, do you do any prep beforehand or do you just kinda go in and wing it as far as you know, any vocal exercises or anything like that?

Larry Kenney: Well, everybody’s different, you know, I don’t do any of that kind of stuff. I don’t do any LA LA LA LA mama, [00:06:00] mama, mama, mama.

There, there are people who do that, you know, and it helped me. It works for them. That’s great. You know, I just never, first of all, found the need to do it. And it sounds, I know it’s going to sound egotistical, but I just, from the earliest age, Discover that if I open my mouth and I want it, the words that come out sounding like Donald duck, they do.

Or if, if I want them to sound like I never, I never rehearsed anything. I mean, I never practiced a voice. Like when I decided I wanted to do Richard Nixon all back then it was Richard Nixon, you know? I never really practices. I just, I just said, let me, let me try it. Okay. Hi. I am Richard Nixon and I’m not a crook.

Okay. I can do him. So that’s it. Now, if I had tried to do him. First time and couldn’t get it and try it a little more and just couldn’t get it. I would forget about it. I am not one of those kind of people who listens to hours and hours of tape, you know, lazy let’s face it. I’ve gotten away with it.

Melissa: Yeah. [00:07:00] And it sounds like. I have a natural gift for it, which is rare and awesome.

Larry Kenney: It is. Yeah. Believe me. I’m thankful for it. I joke about it, but I really, you know, I, I’ve known so many wonderful people in my business over the years. And most of them have had to work really hard at it. And I feel kind of funny about that.

You know, I hear guys tell stories about man, this took me three years to get this voice down, you know? Wow.

Melissa: Yeah,

Larry Kenney: yeah, yeah. It is. It sounds egotistical, but believe me, it’s not, I just, I don’t know how I do it, but I can’t do every voice in the world, you know, but I can do it. Few and the ones that I can do, they just, they just come, you know,

Melissa: what’s your favorite, favorite voice

Larry Kenney: have done?

Yeah. Well, gosh, there’s so many and so many that I like, I guess I have to say lion [00:08:00] Oak because Lionel from Thundercats. So it’s an animated series from the eighties. Because, well, first of all, it’s so I it’s become iconic. You know, the show has become iconic and everybody from, you know, 20 years old to 50 knows, you know, Thundercats and Lionel.

So I guess that, you know, that would be my, my favorite in a way, because most people know me for that in terms of the most fun voice. That I’ve done is sunny, Coco puffs, bird

Melissa: SUNYs.

Larry Kenney: I’ve been his voice for 40 years. And and also count Chocula I’ve been gone chocolately for 39 years and they’re both fun

Melissa: as

Larry Kenney: well.

Melissa: And those are iconic as well.

Larry Kenney: Yes, they have become iconic. I’ve been so lucky over the years to get these, these, you know, in my business, the voiceover business now, as you know, has been my business, I’ve been in radio and television. [00:09:00] I’ve done records. I’ve done. I was a game show host for a few years, but.

But my love is his voices and cartoon show is movie trailers, things like that. I don’t know. It’s just where I love to do video games. Now video games have become huge and I’ve I’ve done several of those now and it’s a lot of fun.

Melissa: Yeah, I was. I was going to ask you about that actually. Since you brought it up, well, we’ll do it now.

Have you, so with the video games, have you noticed, is there much of a difference. When in the process, when you recording for a video game versus the television show?

Larry Kenney: Well, pardon me? I’m sorry. I’m going to listen

Melissa: and take a drink.

Larry Kenney: Didn’t want you to hear it. Okay. Ask me the question again, please.

Melissa: A recording for a video game. Is that any different of a process than when you’re doing it for a television [00:10:00] show?

Larry Kenney: Well, the first few I did, it was exactly the same because I was, it was only the voice. I was only the voice of a video game character, but the most recent one I’m worked on is a game called red dead redemption two.

Melissa: I love that game.

Larry Kenney: Oh, great. Do you know JB Crips,

Melissa: Crips.

Larry Kenney: Oh, that’s me. I’ve been encrypted for several years. That was the first video game where I got to actually go on set and be the character before it was just in the, in the, in the booth, in the recording booth reading. It’s like, you know, like you’re doing a cartoon show or anything that commercial, anything else, but this one, you know, I got to put the suit on, you know what I’m talking about?

The Texas or spandex or whatever, the suit with the little electronic patches all over you.

Melissa: Yeah. Yeah. That’s awesome. Yeah. I’ve seen that in documentaries and stuff like that. Was there like a green screen. [00:11:00]

Larry Kenney: No, this wasn’t that kind of a thing that was like avatar, but this one it’s so hard for me to describe it, but it, it, it, the stage.

In front of the cities was this airplane. Hangar is a huge airplane hanger out in long Island, New York. And, and it was an enormous thing. And the ceiling and all four walls are covered with cameras. They told me there are 3000 cameras in that room. You put on this suit with all the contact points on it.

You know, you put a helmet on that has a bar that comes. Out your forehead down in front of your face. And then it holds a camera. And a microphone

Melissa: and that’s how,

Larry Kenney: yeah. And then you have these big boots on it and you have gloves and that’s how you have to act is the weirdest thing. But it’s not like you’re doing Shakespeare, you know, you’re doing a, you’re doing an action [00:12:00] video game.

So, you know, but it was the most incredible experience in my life. And I, I just I love it. That’s

Melissa: really cool. Now, were they doing that to sort of like mimic your movements as well, so they can incorporate you.

Larry Kenney: Exactly. That’s you’re so smart, Melissa. Thank you. That’s what it, that’s. What it does is it translates my body movements to the character.

Now here’s the crazy thing. It does it in real time. There are monitors hanging on the, on the wall where, okay. I walk out onto the set and I’ve got that gear on it. I told you about, I don’t look up at the monitors and there I am, but I’m in full costume. Wow. Character’s costume carrying a gun, whatever, with a hat on or, or not.

And if I look up at the, and I wave that’s me waving back at me, I mean, wow.

Melissa: That must be so surreal. Yeah.

Larry Kenney: That’s the word? Exactly. It’s surreal.

Melissa: That’s [00:13:00] so cool. So when you are doing a television show or even a video game for that matter, are you allowed to add live at all or is the script like set in stone?

Larry Kenney: On Thundercats for example, and the other Rankin bass cartoons. And I was on, pardon my voice, by the way, I’ve been screaming all day. Let’s get a little Scandi commercials and who’s a spiel, the rainbow taste, the rainbow. Yeah. And when you do that, when you can do that, like an eight o’clock at night, nine o’clock at night.

Again, repeat the question, please. I’m 112, you know,

Melissa: no problem. So when you’re recording for a voice for a show or character, do you, are you allowed to ad lib anything or is that you have to stick to the script? No matter what

Larry Kenney: most of the time yeah. You stick to the script and the reason for it is I mean there are, there are times that you can.

Kind of get [00:14:00] away with adding a word or two and like putting a well in front of a sentence or something, but most of the time they want you to stick to the script. And I realized early on the reason for that, of course, as a young actor, I was egotistical. And I thought, well, well, I didn’t know how to do the line and tell me how to do the lines, stuff like that.

But or why shouldn’t I be able to, but then you re realize very quickly that the people who are writing these shows are true professionals, too. They are the best in the business. And so for me, My job is acting. And just as, I wouldn’t want them to come down and tell me, here’s how they’ll say the line here.

Just read it, just like this. You know, I don’t tell them I don’t change their words. You know what I mean? There there’s, there’s the rare occasion where you’re doing a commercial. Let’s say it, especially radio commercials or something where they’ll say feel free to [00:15:00] add whatever you think that you think the character.

The way you do the character might talk, you know, but most of the time you, you pretty much follow the script, which really makes it easier for you. You don’t have to come up with dialogue.

Melissa: Yeah, that’s true. And then as far as the voice itself, are you, are you coming up with that completely on your own or are they giving you guidelines?

Like this is what we want you to sound like.

Larry Kenney: Again, it all depends on Melissa, for example, let’s say when I first started doing the The count Chocula commercials. This is back in 1911, I think. No, it was late seventies, 78, I think. Yeah. Well, there had been a guy doing the voice of count Chocula for years and years and years, I grew up listening to him.

His name was Jim. He was retiring. So in that particular case, and in the case of sunny, the cocoa puffs burn in both, in both [00:16:00] instances there, they were replacing the previous guy for whatever reason, but they wanted it to sound just the same because people were used to it. You know, they were used to Sonny sounding like up here, I won’t go cuckoo for cocoa puffs.

And that had been done for, since I was a kid by a guy named Chuck McCann and he back in the early seventies, left to New York to go to LA didn’t movies and TV shows. So they needed somebody to take his place. But the, you know, the interview, I mean the audition hundreds of people. But they tell you right away.

We’re not looking for a new Sonny boys are gone. Jockey love. Boys are looking to, for you to match it as closely as you can to the, to the established. So that took a lot of pressure off, you know, it came down to whoever gets the most like Jim Ducasse and Chuck McCann. And I got both of them.

Melissa: Well, that’s great.

Yeah, no pressure [00:17:00] for you. I’m sure. Probably some other actors, but like, Oh great. You know,

Larry Kenney: Yeah.

Melissa: So I know you do multiple voices. Sometimes it’s on the same show, multiple characters. Is that challenging to do that? Or, I mean, I don’t think it is for you now that I’m listening to you. It’s fine. I check it off.

Larry Kenney: I’m assuming you’re talking about, let’s say on a cartoon show where, where two of the characters that I do are talking.

Melissa: Yes, exactly. Yeah. Deeper core that like continuously.

Larry Kenney: Yeah. I thought that’s what you meant. Good question. Again, it varies from actor, the actor. Some people like to do it. For example, if we’re doing Thundercats and I’m Lionel, of course, I’m also, I’m also Jacqueline man on the show, we all did hundreds of voices in the show.

There are only five of us in the cast for 130 episodes. We did all the voices, but let’s say I had an episode where lion, Oh, one of my characters [00:18:00] was in a conversation or a fight or whatever with Jacko man who, one of the evil mutans UNIV Now some actors would say, let me do all of Lyon those lines so I can stay in character, you know, I won’t have to worry about, and then I’ll do Jacqueline mans lines for some reason.

I just, I like to do it in real time. First of all, it’s challenging and it’s very, it’s very fun. You know, I mean, anybody can do all of the lion. I was like, but I loved it acting against myself, for example I don’t have a script here, but okay. Slido and Jacqueline man in the script might go like Jacqueline man, what are you?

yes. And we’re going to defeat you. And I guess that’s the way I like.

Melissa: Wow. That’s brilliant. You like, literally just took me right into it.

Larry Kenney: Thank you. I’ll tell you one thing. The the producers loved it because it’s just. Saved him tape, which we use tape back in those days, you know, [00:19:00] and save the tape and the in time, because they didn’t have to say, okay, let’s chop up all Llanos lines and then chop up all Jacqueline’s lions and try to edit them together, you know?

Yeah. So they love me for that.

Melissa: All right. Bet. Yeah. Among other things I’m sure.

Larry Kenney: Well, now Melissa, let’s, don’t get into that.

Melissa: Yeah. So taking it back a little bit when you were auditioning for the original prick hat, did you find out right away that you got the part or was it like multiple callbacks before you found out?

Larry Kenney: There were no callbacks. I recall that. But I, I can’t really tell you that I remember exactly how long it was. Probably it was typical in our business that it was maybe less than a week, but that’s usually how it works. Because when, for example, when they, they call you for an audition for something it’s for a commercial or, or a cartoon show, that’s [00:20:00] going to be starting re production in about a week.

Or two weeks, you know what I’m saying?

Melissa: That’s quick.

Larry Kenney: Yeah. It’s usually a quick turnaround. Yeah.

Melissa: Okay. And did you have to audition with any of the other actors to see, do they want to kind of see if you had chemistry together?

Larry Kenney: Interestingly, you asked. Very good questions. Thanks. No, no, we did not do that.

No, we didn’t. That’s it’s a good question. I’ll be thinking about that the rest of the night now, why they didn’t do that.

Melissa: Yeah, I hear about that often, you know, when you’re thinking of like live action movies and things like that, you hear about the leads having to audition together.

Larry Kenney: Chemistry and everything.

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Interesting.

Melissa: Yeah. Yeah. Now I know you touched on this a little earlier. So the series first aired in the eighties, and then recently Hulu just bought streaming rights. Did you think back then that thunder cats would still be so beloved [00:21:00] today?

Larry Kenney: Oh, there’s no way you’re going to know that Melissa.

I mean, we knew we meaning, you know, I mean the rest of the cast and the the writer is the animators, you know, it’s hundreds of people, even, even an animated cartoon show, there are hundreds of people involved in just the production of it. We First of all after the audition, I remember walking to a coffee shop with a few of the other actors who were auditioning.

And of course you talk about what’d you think of that? You know, and the consensus was they got a great idea there, you know, It looks like I couldn’t, it couldn’t do very well, but you never know. I mean, you could have the best actors, the best music was another great part of thunder cats and silver Hawks too.

We had the great, great music. Yeah. It was the first time that metal heavy metal had been used, you know, for a cartoon show.

Melissa: It’s

Larry Kenney: fantastic. [00:22:00] So know, but you never know. I mean, I remember talking after I liked the first few, we would, we would record two episodes a day. Two days a month. And I remember after the first two months, let’s say we were having a lunch.

You know, when I say we, I mean the other actors, Lynn Lipton, and Bob McFadden, Earl Hammond, dural Hyman, I’m leaving people out here, Peter Newman. And we would say, you know, this is good writing, you know, it’s, it’s very good. Right. Yeah. And of course, by then, at that time we hadn’t seen the animation.

Which later blew our minds or even heard the music. We hadn’t heard the music yet. All we knew it was the words we were.

Melissa: Yeah, the words you’re saying. Yeah. And the animation was, was really sort of above its time. I mean, I think it was, you know, it still holds today.

Larry Kenney: I agree. I agree. It certainly does. So you never know.

I mean, we. After a while you start thinking, Hey, this could be a hit, you know, we might [00:23:00] have answer, but you also have that feeling in the back of your mind that that’s a, in this business, you never know. And it could just bomb completely bombing it. So to answer your question though, we had no idea, but we knew we had a chance.

We had no idea. Yeah.

Melissa: You needed something. Yeah. And did it Did it, so I’m assuming as the show went on and gained popularity it, it probably changed her life, obviously like in, into the degree of more doors being open for you in the, in the industry and getting offered more parts.

Larry Kenney: Well my first instinct would be to say yes, but at that time, Melissa, I had already been pretty established, you know, and I mean, I came to New York. I came to New York in 1974. Yeah. And so, you know, get into the commercials and, and, and it started getting more and more, you know, like like I said, in 78, 79, I got, I got count Chocula and Coco [00:24:00] posts.

Then I started doing so many toy commercials. GI Joe Mattel, Hasbro. Milton Bradley all those. So my point is that I, I really had to, I kind of established myself in the voiceover industry. Yeah, so, but this was a wonderful new area. Opening it up. Yeah.

Melissa: That’s awesome. Hey,

Larry Kenney: this was a wonderful new thing for me from him.

Yeah. I love doing commercials and I had been doing them for years and years since I was in Cleveland. But this was a whole new thing for me.

Melissa: Yeah, no, that’s exciting. Something different. You know, why not, you know, add it, add it to the repertoire.

Larry Kenney: I’d give it the, try it. If it doesn’t work out, you know, you always go back to the other stuff, Brian, but it’s worked out

Melissa: well.

I’m doing the reboot Thundercats roar. Do you, do you find it to be a different experience, like compared to back then? Or do you feel it’s almost like time hasn’t even passed?

[00:25:00] Larry Kenney: Well, here’s the thing about that. I’m not even sure they’re still making the thunder UCAS a roar. Yep. I’m sure you’re probably aware of the brouhaha about it on the internet and all that kind of stuff.

A lot of people, fans of the original show hate did you know, they don’t like it

Melissa: when

Larry Kenney: I tell them some people do. And it’s understandable. I mean, the original fans with the other cats I’ve found over the years are very protective of the. Legacy of the original one. And I’m sure this is the same thing with bands of that He-Man Ninja turtles, all those shows we had back in the eighties, you know, people say, no, no, the original is the best one, but I tell them, yes, we are going to what you always will have that you’ve got it on DVD.

You’ve got it on YouTube. If you watch it every episode on YouTube onto this new one. Well, first of all, we did a re a reboot in [00:26:00] 2011 with Warner brothers. Okay. And that was, I thought that was a very good series, but it only lasted 23 episodes or something like that. So anyway, I tell people, you know, you’ve always got the original window watch if you want this new one Thundercats roar on which I played jogger.

The old wise guy wise, man, I shouldn’t say he was a white. That’s what he wants you to Weiss. It’s made it, the whole intention is for a very young kid, just like teen Titans go, which I did in a couple of episodes of yesterday. It was matter of fact. But it’s, it’s, if you’re familiar with it, the, the animation is very basic, very primitive, you know kind of squiggly drawing, you know, kind of things.

Yeah. It’s and the overall tone is I would call goofy. Not dramatic, not serious. Right. So there you have it. And if you like it [00:27:00] fine, if you don’t, you know, you’ve gotten, she’ll got the old one and let it go.

Melissa: Yeah. Yeah, no, I think it’s, it’s nice to have You know, you have the nostalgia from the old ones, but I think it’s okay.

You know, when, when things get rebooted, I mean, they do the same with film as well now, and there’s always a bunch of people that go, Oh, it’s terrible. It’s not like the original. No, but I mean, you have to just sort of appreciate it for what it is, I guess, you know, and but times are different when you’re remaking a movie that’s 30, 40 years old or a show it’s going to be different, you know?

Larry Kenney: Sure.

Melissa: Yeah. Yeah. Definitely. So your now your daughter is an actress notably for Reno nine 11 and the state, have you two ever gone to work together?

Larry Kenney: You know, I don’t think we ever, well, yes, of course we have. I’m sorry. It’s been so long ago on a show that she was on call the state back in the nineties, the early nineties, [00:28:00] when she was first beginning her career.

Are you familiar with the state at all?

Melissa: I am. I remember watching it when it first came out. I spent a long time since I’ve seen it.

Larry Kenney: You’ll remember then that the cast of Reno nine 11 included most of those people. Yep. My daughter’s name is Carrie Kenny silver, and she’s done very well in Hollywood and a lot of movies and TV shows and re you know, nine 11 one that’s come back now.

And in many series, many episodes on HBO, max But it’s an incredible story that, that when Carrie went to Northwestern university back in the plus, she graduated high school. I’m sorry, 88. Yeah. Okay. And Northwestern university the first few weeks that they were there, somebody put up a thing on the bulletin board, buddy.

We’re starting a new improv group. So Carrie went and she showed up and it turned out to be her [00:29:00] and 10 guys who became this improv group that very quickly were making a name for themselves in New York. They were doing you know, these little basement venues, you know and small theaters and things like that.

And they became very well known. And then when they graduated MTV, Which was pretty new itself at the time offer their own show. Well, first they put them on a show with John Stewart called you wrote it. You watch it. Yeah, you send your own script in and they would, they would produce it and put it on TV and then they change their MTV, gave them their own show, but they wanted them to change their name from the new group.

That’s what, that’s where they were called at NYU.

Melissa: Oh, that’s

Larry Kenney: okay. Well, there was an old group when Carrie got there, there was a improv group called the group. Well, they all graduated. So these kids became a new [00:30:00] group anyway, but anyway, MTV said, we have to have a must have a better name. Let’s call you the state for whatever reason.

And that kind of blew up and became a huge thing back in the nineties, the state and. So that was, that was her beginning.

Melissa: That’s great. And so you, you did some voice work on, on the state.

Larry Kenney: I, I was the, the announcer on the state, the opening of the show, I’d say, I don’t know, MTV presents something entirely different.

Melissa: Love it. And you also said the VH ones that was best. Best week ever was.

Larry Kenney: Oh yeah. You remember that show?

Melissa: Definitely. No, I remember it because I mean, I grew up you know, in the eighties and nineties. So I, yeah, I remember the, the, all those shows on VH1 and you always wonder who the person is, you know, that’s behind the, the announcing

Larry Kenney: who is that idiot screaming off.

No, that was, that was, I did that for several [00:31:00] years. We did a four or five years, and then it went on a hiatus for a couple of years. Then we did it again for a few years and then the same thing over. And it was. One of the most fun jobs I ever had because of the crazy things I got to say, you know, those of you listening, who remember the show, you remember the, it was kind of like, it was, it was a kind of like a takeoff on all the current shows on.

TV, we would say here’s what happened. But the reason that it was a lot of fun, but it also killed me because for an hour and a half, I would be going it’s the second day of April, 1994.

Melissa: You’re bringing me back.

Larry Kenney: Oh God, I wouldn’t come home and go to bed for three days. Yeah. It’s pretty much the same voice. Pretty much the same voice I use now on Skittles, if you think about it, it’s feel a rainbow taste.

Melissa: Yeah. Very similar. I actually [00:32:00] do drink a lot of tea and honey

Larry Kenney: I sometimes do. Yeah.

Yeah. There are actors, of course, who have their own. We talked about this earlier. You asked me a great question earlier about the process. I don’t. Do the vocal acrobatics to try to get ready. But when I, if, if my voice is a little rough, like it is right now, as a matter of fact, that hour an hour ago, I had some hot Toni hot tea with honey.

Melissa: Yeah. Yeah. I got to protect

Larry Kenney: Johnny, you know,

But yeah. Yeah. That’s that’s about all I do. I’ve been very fortunate, you know, I, I medically, I mean, I’ve never, I’m, I’m 73 years old and I’ve only been in the hospital once in my life, except for when I was born. Correct. That’s

Melissa: right. Yeah, no, that doesn’t happen.

[00:33:00] Larry Kenney: Brothers and sisters were born at home, but but I I’ve never had, I’ve never had an operation except for a hip replacement, but I’ve never been in a hospital overnight.

I’ve never never had any kind of disease. When I was a kid I never had never had adenoids taken out or tonsils taken out.

Melissa: You’re lucky. You’re lucky. Yeah. Yeah. That’s, that’s very fortunate, especially with the. Kind of line of work you’re in that you have a voice that can doesn’t tire out, you know, and, and you can keep it going.

Larry Kenney: That’s great.

Melissa: So now at this point in your career, You’ve been doing this a really long time and you’re very established as side. So do you, do you sort of get down well, you know, you’re, you’ve earned your, you know, you’ve earned your place and, and this this business. Do, do you get to, I mean, you [00:34:00] pretty much get to handpick now kind of what you want to do as far as jobs, or do you still have are people coming to you and saying, Hey, we want you to do this, that, or are you seeking it out and saying, I really want to be a part of this?

Larry Kenney: Well I have an agent. Okay. You know, as most of us do in this business, you pretty much have to have an agent, you know, and the advertising agencies call agents. If they’re getting ready to make a new commercial, then they’ll call. The voice actors agents and say, okay, Tuesday at nine, we’re going to be reading for people who can do this sound like this, send all your people who can do this to us and we’ll audition them.

Yeah. So that’s pretty much how you you get the word. I don’t get, I go, I don’t get contacted directly because that’s not how this business works. So, so then my agent will call me for example, and say, okay, Larry this is Friday Monday afternoon at [00:35:00] two. We’d like you to go to such and such a place on sixth Avenue or Broadway or whatever and audition for this new, let’s say this new Animated series that Reagan ambassadors doing called thunder cats.

Sounds interesting. Okay. So let us know how it goes. So you go in, they go there and audition, you know, thank you for much, you know, and then you leave and you, you, you don’t you may know, within two or three days, whether you got the job, if you never hear from them, Obviously you didn’t get the job.

Melissa: Right.

Larry Kenney: But yeah. So, so when you first start in the business, it’s kind of like you’ll, you’ll audition with some other guy or woman you’ll do the thing and then you see them a day later and on the street and you’ll say, you think we got it? Have you heard from him? Do you think we got,

I got another one.

Melissa: Yeah, you probably, you just build up a thick skin after a while and yeah. I know. Yeah.

Larry Kenney: Any, any place in, in [00:36:00] quote, show business, entertaining entertainment industry. If you don’t have a thick shell, you’re not going to make it. I mean, they’re in my part of the business that are part of the business.

I must say though, that the people are so nice. The people you audition for, the people you work with. Not only the actors, but, but the the crew for some reason in our side of the business, there’s not a lot of the jealousy, you know what I’m saying? The infighting backstabbing, you know, there’s not, there’s not any of that.

Melissa: That’s great. And do you, do you find, is it. Kind of like a smaller community, as far as when you’re doing things, do you tend to run into the same people on the same, you know, the same crew and things like that?

Larry Kenney: Yes. Oh yeah. It’s changing a lot now because of the internet. You know, you’re going to, you can be a, you can audition for a network commercial from your home if you have a microphone on [00:37:00] your computer.

Yeah, but back in the old days, the goal is we call, we call from like 1970 to 90, 95, the golden days of voice actors in New York and LA it’s too. But I mean, in those days, An average day for someone like me would be get off the train at grand central at nine o’clock. Then you might have an audition at nine 30, four blocks away.

Then you might have a booking in a job that you got, then you might, I had two, three more auditions then lunch. And it was just bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, and those, and those days. Yeah. In New York, all the studios and, and, and ad agencies. And casting places were pretty much in a small confined area in Midtown, New York, you know, 30, 40 block area.

Now they’re all up and down thing. But, but back in those days, yeah, you would see people [00:38:00] every street corner on Madison Avenue between, well, let me just say this. You would see on every street corner, Midtown Manhattan, you would see a group of three or four people and you can just spot them that they’re voice actors.

The guys would all have leather shoulder bags.

Melissa: Wow. Yeah,

Larry Kenney: yeah. The carrier, your phone, you know, well, back then we didn’t have the cell phones, but but now it’s now The business is still fun, but you work alone almost all the time. See, back in those days, if you were doing a radio commercial with six other people, you would be in the studio with six other people and you would be recording and feeding off each other.

You know, the same thing with, I made it these days for whatever reason, it’s not that. That part of the business is not that much fun. You almost always are in the little booth by yourself. And the other [00:39:00] person is either in LA or Chicago or Atlanta. And that’s how you do it now. It’s kind of a lonely business now.

Melissa: That’s right?

Oh, no, we’ve touched a nerve

so, well then I’m assuming the pandemic that we’re in right now has that not really affected your job then as far as, are you still going to a studio or are you just recording from home?

Larry Kenney: Melissa. I was in New York city yesterday to do two episodes of teen Titans go. And that was the first time I had stepped foot in Manhattan since April.

Melissa: Oh, wow.

Larry Kenney: Yeah. There’s just nothing going on. I mean, there, you know, it’s yeah. It’s, it’s really bad.

Melissa: Yeah. And [00:40:00] it’s, so they’re just not. And things aren’t just aren’t being recorded right now. Is this sort of on a whole.

Larry Kenney: Oh there are, there are auditions I can do from home on the same microphone I’m talking to you on now.

And on my computer, I have some, you know, programs that I can, I can, I can do, I can record some things, but not air quality. You know, I can’t record something from here. That’s going to be on CBS tomorrow night or something like that. I had to go into a studio.

Melissa: Yeah, well, they, they have the equipment and, and the soundproofing and all of that.

Yeah. That makes sense. So so are you, so you do the Skittles commercial and then the teen Titans. Is there, what else? Or is there anything else you have in the works or are you just kind of on hold right now? Far as waiting to see what happens

Larry Kenney: and like everybody else I’m on hold and see what happens.

 It’s affected everything. Of course. Another big thing for me is Comicons, you know,

Melissa: Oh my gosh. Yeah.

Larry Kenney: I normally do. Oh, you know, as many Comicons a year as I want. [00:41:00] And those are great too. But you know, Hey, everybody’s suffering from this thing.

Melissa: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. The, the I was supposed to go to the Seattle comic con Emerald city, which is one of the best ones I think.

It’s a lot of fun and you know, yeah, it was really sad. All of these, you know, actors and comic book writers and just the vendors, you know, the Indy vendors that are there to make their living and sell their wares. You know, it’s just so unfortunate that all that, that loss of business. And I, I often wonder, and I’ll ask you this, if, you know, future-wise, I wonder if it’s going to change the dynamic of comic cons as far as, you know, the shaking of the hands and the selfies that people like to take, you know,

Larry Kenney: Yeah, well it’s, it’s going to have to at least for a while, and who knows, you know what it’s going to take to, to loosen things up.

But I think it’s the only saving grace, I guess if there is one, if you want to call it, that [00:42:00] is that we we’re like everybody else. It’s every business is like that. It’s not just us.

Melissa: Have you participated in any virtual content?

Larry Kenney: Yes. I’ve done a few of those. They’ve been kind of fun. Yeah.

Melissa: Yeah. Those are cool. I’ve watched a couple on YouTube and it was, it was nice. I, I thought, you know, it was going to be weird, but it was actually really fun to just kind of hear people talk and Up close and personal.

So

Larry Kenney: I know isn’t it, isn’t it funny how, w w when we first started trying to figure out, okay, well, maybe we can use this zoom thing and yeah, but it’s not going to be the same, but everybody’s loving it now. I mean, you’re going to have a lot of fun doing those kinds of things.

Melissa: Plus pressure too. You’re you’re not getting on a plane and checking into a hotel and, you know, making all these arrangements, you’re literally just your house

Larry Kenney: with my pajamas on and here I am.

Melissa: Yeah, exactly. So do you think it’s harder or easier [00:43:00] for people to, and this is pre pandemic of course easier or harder for people to break into voice acting now than it was back then? Or is it harder, easier than.

Larry Kenney: Well, Melissa, I think it must be easier now. I don’t know for sure. I don’t have any, I don’t have any statistics or have early talked with the other people in the business.

I would think it must be easier on one level. Back back when I first came to New York and up until up until. 10 12 years ago. It was a very small group of people doing all the commercials, you know, and we liked it. That would always say to me, Mr. Kenney can you tell me how to get into the voiceover business?

No, we don’t need you, but I’m just joking, but, but not now you can go on the internet. And you’ll see all just type in voiceover casting or commercial casting. And they’re all these companies [00:44:00] that that they say can get you jobs, doing commercials, you know, and things, but I’m sure it’s like for a little, very little money.

It’s not union scale. Of course, at all. So in one way, I guess it, it, it might be easier now to at least get a shot at it. You know what I’m saying? Which is a good thing to at least say, let me try. And if it works and then maybe it’s other people hear me and maybe, maybe I can make it in this business. So in, in that way, I guess it is allowing more people, a chance at it.

Melissa: That is good. Yeah. Opening it up by making it more inclusive.

Larry Kenney: Yeah. But but I hope this is not people coming in who can do a count Chocula

Melissa: right. Of course. No, that’s just for you.

Well, and as far as anyone that would be listening to this program and, and to you, who’s wanting to, you know, be in your shoes and [00:45:00] have a long career and voice acting, you know, what’s your advice to them as far as getting started and getting an agent.

Larry Kenney: Well, I here’s the advice I’ve always given, but I must be honest.

I don’t know if now in this day and age as my father used to say given what I’ve just mentioned to you about the opportunities on the internet I don’t know if this advice is even, is even Even works today, but my advice has always been take classes. If you want to be a voiceover actor, take classes, you can Google.

Let’s say for example, if you live in, in, in Peoria, Illinois, you can Google voice acting classes in Peoria, Illinois, or, or. Voice coaches or whatever. And immediately you’ll see that long list of different people in that area. And believe me, no matter where you go, you’ll find people that want to teach you how to be a voice actor.

Now, the problem becomes how legit are they what’s, you know, I always tell them, [00:46:00] look for that. And here are the things that you want to look for. First of all, you want to find an organization that’s going to That you’re going to believe there after you pay your money and you’re taking all the nine or 10 weeks of two hours, three days a week, whatever they charge, whatever it is that you leave there with what we used to call a demo reel, which is real a real tape.

But now of course, now, of course it’s not even, it’s not even CD anymore DVD now. Email it, email it to somebody. Yeah, exactly. So it makes sure that it’s a place where they work with you individually. And at the end of the they help you make this two to two and a half minute demo of what you can do and also look for a place that, that promises you and guarantees you that during the.

Eight weeks or whatever it is that these classes are run, you know [00:47:00] that, and a certain number of these nights, there will be, they will have people there for you to meet a networking thing. You’ll meet advertising agency people you’ll, you’ll meet casting people, other, other people who are professional voiceover, people who are successful and you’ll have the opportunity to.

You know, get that information too. That’s what I would say. Look for something like that. And if you can do it, go ahead and do it, give it a shot. Go for it. Yeah.

Melissa: That’s great advice. Very good for everyone listening. Yes.

Larry Kenney: Again.

Melissa: Yeah. Nope. That’s off limits, basically. Anything on your IMDV page is off limits though.

Everybody go make sure

Larry Kenney: that’s right.

Melissa: Well, that’s great. Well, thank you so much for chatting with me tonight. This has been really fun. I’ve learned a lot. I knew nothing about voice acting before, and I know a little bit more now, so [00:48:00] I appreciate it.

Larry Kenney: Well, I really I’ve really enjoyed it, Melissa. Your questions were great and I’m not just blowing smoke at you.

I do a lot of these interviews, you know, and now that there are podcasts and things like that, it’s the same now in that area, as it was, as I mentioned before about Well, recycling, you can go online and, and there are a million, you know, coaches and things like there are a million podcasts and I, I get asked to do, you know, so many of, and I, I hate to turn people down, but it’s, it’s pretty much the same thing, you know, over and over, but th but you asked some great questions and

Melissa: thank you.

Thank you. Well, thank you. And please come back any time. You know, I would love to. Keep track of what’s going on in your career. And when you’ve got something you want to promote, like, please come back on it. It’s just been really fun and getting to hear all your voices live.

Larry Kenney: I’d love to, I’d love to do it again.

Melissa: And for us, [00:49:00] everyone also just, you know, check out the thunder cats roar on the cartoon network, if they’re still airing the episodes, I’m assuming. And and then Hulu has the original, you know, fender cat. So if you haven’t seen it Go check it out. And thank you so much, Larry. Kenny, it’s been such a pleasure.

Larry Kenney: Thank you, Melissa. I’ve enjoyed it very much.

Melissa: Thank you so much.

 

Author: Spoiler Country

The best podcast out there about comics, movies, whatever that you will find with John and Kenric as the hosts! Check out our archives by clicking here!

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